By Evan Wallace |
October 27, 2019
Texts & Technology PhD Student Stories

In this series, “T&T Student Stories,” current students share what brought them to the interdisciplinary Texts & Technology PhD program. Interested in learning more? Join us for an upcoming info session virtually or in-person on November 7th!

My background is in history and religious studies, and I chose the Texts & Technology PhD to link my historical knowledge to the digital realm and/or contemporary issues. As it turns out, this is possible, even as someone who looks at history and spirituality from the medieval Russian period!

One thing that appealed to me is that the students in T&T have the ability to take their respective disciplines into more emergent areas, because I had engaged in interdisciplinary work before and wished to continue my studies in a similar fashion. On one hand, the curriculum of the program has allowed me to engage new perspectives on topics that exist in my field. On the other, my digital humanities specialization has helped equip me with the tools and methods that I would have never discovered had I attended a traditional history PhD program.

Through taking an interdisciplinary approach, my research has grown to examine the use of historical ideologies, concepts, and symbolism in contemporary Russia. Instead of studying the past as a fixed period, I have been able to see how people today use the past to provide meaning and narrative to contemporary issues. Since my research makes connections between the past and present, I enjoy exploring public manifestations of history in social media, blogs, and other digital outlets that are often much more susceptible to modification. These alterations often speak to real emotion and political/ideological perspectives. Put simply, digital humanities has provided me a gateway to see how the history I studied is being used today!

As digital humanities is an emergent field, the Texts & Technology program puts a strong emphasis upon research and encourages the students to participate in the academic conversation as well. With the support of the program within the first half of my second year I have been able to attend four conferences, of which two were international. Past my own research, through my assistantship in the Center for Humanities and Digital Research (CHDR) I have learned about different institutional aspects of digital humanities research, like grant preparation, development, and the creation of deliverables. With skills from both my own and collaborative, I feel that the Texts & Technology program has and will continue to prepare me for a career in my field.